MALIGNAGGI showed how good he can be when he's in top form. / Photo: Tom Casino, for Showtime
It’s easy to forget what a good boxer Paulie Malignaggi can be when he’s really focused and ready to fight. Paulie was practically run out of the ring by Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan — although very game — but on his good nights he is always going to be difficult to beat.
Malignaggi had one of his good nights on Saturday when he outboxed and almost outclassed Zab Judah in the main event on Showtime.
PAULIE, ZAB, battle for Brooklyn bragging rights tonight. / Photo: TOM CASINO, for Showtime
Malignaggi +100; Judah -120
Over 10.5 -280; under 10.5 +240
The most intriguing fights aren’t always between superstars and they don’t have to feature an undefeated star-in-the-making either. A match between two veteran fighters can also have appeal if the ingredients of the match add up to a compelling contest. We have such a fight tonight when Paulie Malignaggi takes on Zab Judah at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
These are boxers who have held championships and who have been on boxing’s big stage many times.
PACQUIAO, RIOS: Speed versus toughness on HBO PPV tonight.
Pacquiao -500; Rios +300
Over 9.5 +130; under 9.5 -150
Eleven months after crashing face-first to the canvas against Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao is back in the ring tonight, meeting Brandon Rios in a 12-round welterweight fight in the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Macau, with TV coverage on HBO PPV in the U.S. and BoxNation in the U.K. The fight takes place on Sunday morning in China to allow for peak-hour TV viewing in the U.S., as happened when Ali met Frazier in the Thrilla in Manila.
Pacquiao is the clear betting favourite, and I’m expecting him to win this fight. Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation promotes both men, but Pacquiao is the big moneymaker and this match hasn’t been made to get him knocked off.
WARD made weight for tonight's fight, Rodriguez didn't
Friday’s weigh-in for tonight’s Andre Ward-Edwin Rodriguez fight on HBO (BoxNation in the UK) casts a shadow over the contest, with Rodriguez coming in two pounds over the super middleweight division limit and choosing to pay a forfeit of 20 per cent of his purse rather than trying to lose the excess. Rodriguez agreed to a second weigh-in on the morning of the fight, at which he agreed not to weigh more than 180 pounds.
I’m starting to wonder if there is any point in having weight divisions. Why not just agree to fight at the championship weight “or anything from two to five pounds over?”
GOLOVKIN, STEVENS: Full-distance fight isn't very likely.
Golovkin -1050; Stevens +500
Over 7.5 +180; under 7.5 -240
The boxing world is in agreement that tonight’s middleweight title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Curtis Stevens won’t be going the full 12 rounds at Madison Square Garden’s theatre (TV coverage on HBO in the U.S. and Sky Sports in the U.K.) Furthermore, there seems to be almost unanimous accord that Golovkin is going to win, probably quickly.
I’m certainly expecting Golovkin to retain his WBA and IBO titles with a stoppage victory but I think that Stevens is going to be dangerous initially, and I’m not sure that Golovkin is going to blow Stevens away as easily as some believe will be the case.
CHAVEZ, VERA: Junior's dedication doubted. / Photo: Chris Farina, Top Rank
Chavez -800; Vera +500
Over 8.5 +120; under 8.5 -140
The fight distance and the weight limit were changed but Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Bryan Vera weighed in on Friday and we have a fight at the StubHub Center in the Los Angeles suburbs tonight (TV coverage on HBO).
The bout is now scheduled for 10 rounds, not 12 as originally intended. The original weight limit of 165 pounds was stretched to accommodate Chavez’s struggle to make weight. Chavez weighed in at 172.4 pounds on Friday, while Vera came in at 171.2 pounds, making this a catchweight contest.
CANELO didn't look intimidated at the weigh in. / Photo: TOM CASINO for Showtime
Mayweather -240; Alvarez +200
Over 10.5 -280; under 10.5 +240
There’s no question that Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is a colossal event, and "The One" will quite likely set a record for pay per view buys. Will the fight live up to the hype, though? Is this fight coming too soon for the hugely popular Canelo?
I believe that the ingredients are there for a fight to remember. This clash of unbeaten champions pits a veteran master boxer going up against a strong young rival. Some might even see it as a “hero vs villain” type of fight, with many no doubt hoping that the brash and boastful Mayweather gets his comeuppance against a quietly confident young man who at the age of 23 is 13 years Mayweather’s junior.
BELTRAN, BURNS: Lightweight fight should be exciting.
Burns -400; Beltran +300
Over 11.5 -150; under 11.5 +130
It is the opinion of promoter Eddie Hearn that if Ricky Burns defeats Raymundo Beltran in their WBO lightweight title bout in Glasgow on Saturday it will cement Burns’s legacy as the greatest Scottish boxer of all time. The comment seems to have caused the self-effacing Burns some embarrassment, but there is no doubting the fighter’s achievements — a two-weight world champion who has won eight consecutive WBO title bouts.
Beltran is a tough, dangerous challenger but Burns, 30, has the look of a special fighter. He hasn’t lost in more than six years and he upset the odds in title-winning fights at junior lightweight and lightweight with his wins over Rocky Martinez and Michael Katsidis.
GEALE, BARKER: Aussie makes U.S. debut tonight. / Photo: Gary Shaw Promotions
Geale -165; Barker +145
Over 11.5 -220; under 11.5 +185
Australia’s Daniel Geale makes his U.S. debut on HBO at the new Revel casino resort in Atlantic City tonight and I believe he’s going to be sternly tested by Britain’s Darren Barker, who tries again to win a major world middleweight title.
Barker fought well in the early rounds against Sergio Martinez and was level on one judge’s card at the halfway stage of their WBC title bout, but Martinez pulled away from him and was starting to dominate the fight before winning in the 11th round.
GOLOVKIN: Faces a tough challenge on Saturday. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Golovkin -750; Macklin +400
Over 8.5 +140; under 8.5 -160
Gennady Golovkin has established himself as one of boxing’s biggest hitters, but Matthew Macklin is the type of fighter who will face anyone, anywhere, and promises to be punching right back at Golovkin in Saturday’s middleweight title bout at the Foxwoods resort in Connecticut (TV coverage on HBO).
The scene is set, then, for what should be a gruelling, give-and-take fight with almost a 1950s feel to it. Golovkin the former world amateur champion from Kazakhstan, has blasted his way to 26 consecutive wins with 23 opponents stopped. He hasn’t had to go the full distance in the last five years.
MALIGNAGGI, BRONER: Talking is over, now for the fight. / Photo: TOM CASINO for Showtime
Malignaggi +400; Broner -800
Over 9.5 -145; under 9.5 +125
Trash talking is very much a part of today’s boxing scene and it has been taken to extremes by Adrien Broner and Paulie Malignaggi in the build-up to tonight’s fight on Showtime in which Broner moves up two weight divisions to challenge Malignaggi for the WBA welterweight title at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Broner has mocked Malignaggi’s jab and move style, calling him a “one-armed bandit” and telling the media that Malignaggi is going to wish “there’s another corner he can run to”, while Malignaggi has criticised the calibre of Broner’s opponents and called Broner’s punching power overrated.
GARCIA, LOPEZ: Will Mikey's weight struggles make a difference? / Photo: CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank
Garcia -600; Lopez +400
Over 9.5 +160; under 9.5 -200
Mikey Garcia missing weight for tonight's fight with Juan Manuel Lopez obliged me to rewrite my preview and take another look at the bout in Dallas (TV coverage on HBO).
Garcia looked drained at the weigh-in after coming in at 128 pounds, and when he failed to shed the excess he lost his WBO featherweight title on the scales. Briefly, the fight looked like being cancelled, but the Lopez camp agreed to go ahead with the bout after being guaranteed an extra $100,000 on top of JuanMa’s purse. If Lopez pulls off the upset he wins the WBO title, otherwise the championship remains vacant.